Vedere la Scienza Festival

International Scientific TV, Film and AV Media Festival

Milano   30/3/2009 - 5/4/2009

Spazio Oberdan, viale Vittorio Veneto 2 - Milano

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A Zed and Two Noughts



  1. Original Title: A Zed and Two Noughts
  2. Author: Peter Greenaway
  3. Director: Peter Greenaway
  4. Screenplay: Peter Greenaway, Walter Donohue
  5. Editor: John Wilson
  6. Photography: Sacha Vierny
  7. Scenography: Ben van Os, Jan Roelfs
  8. Music: Michael Nyman
  9. Costumi/Costumes
    Patricia Lim, Constance De Vos
  10. Starring:
    Andréa Ferréol, Brian Deacon, Eric Deacon, Frances Barber, Joss Ackland, Jim Davidson, Gerard Thoolen
  11. United Kingdom
  12. 115 min.
  13. 1985

A car crash caused by a swan colliding against the windscreen causes the death of two of the female occupants. The third woman, Alba, survives but has one leg amputated by a surgeon who is also a painter and faker of paintings by Vermeer, who became famous for making only half-length portraits. Alba plunges into the lives of twins Oswald and Oliver, the two dead women’s widowers. They work for the zoo and make time-lapse films of different decaying organisms. Alba is made pregnant by both of them and gives birth to another pair of twins, but before her death she copulates with a leg-less man. Finally, Oswald and Oliver try to film their own decomposition by committing suicide in front of a camera. The trademark of Peter Greenaway’s movies is his passion for symmetries, coincidences, mythology, numerology, the vagaries of nature, and sophisticated intellectual references. Like his previous two feature films, A Zed and Two Noughts has all it takes to seduce viewers with the elegance of its maker’s sumptuous talent and/or to sicken them with its fascination verging on morbidity with decay, putrefaction, and death. Intrigued by the prospect of filming a zoo, which he saw as a metaphor and a ‘catalogue of all species gathered in a single place’, with the making A Zed and Two Noughts Peter Greenaway seems to have been gripped by a febrile need to capture the secrets of death, and thus also of the origin of life on earth. This is exemplified by the excerpts of an eight-part documentary series on the evolution of species which intersperse the movie and which the twins obsessively study in an attempt to unravel the mystery.

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